An estimated three percent of Ontario’s tallgrass habitat is all that remains of this vanishing ecosystem. To raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity and habitat preservation, we’ve recreated a Tallgrass Prairie on 2.02 hectares (five acres) at Downsview Park. Find it between the Mound and Boake’s Grove!
Our Tallgrass Prairie came to be as part of the Weston Family Parks Challenge and a collaboration with Tallgrass Ontario to create the Downsview Park Tallgrass project.
To learn more about this project and other environmental initiatives, please see the sustainability page.
Here’s a fun fact:
Tallgrass Prairies contain some of the rarest plant and wildlife species in Canada. For this reason, they have been identified as a key biodiversity indicator.
Where can I find more information about this project?
Weston Family Parks Challenge - https://parkpeople.ca/opportunity/weston-family-parks-challenge/
Tallgrass Ontario - http://www.tallgrassontario.org/
Why is tallgrass important?
- It is a globally imperilled ecosystem and one of the most endangered in Canada.
- It provides habitat for a number of wildlife species, including more than 150 species that are officially designated as “rare” at the global, national or provincial level.
- It is home to threatened species like the Bobolink, which is in danger of disappearing from Canada. Some tallgrass species, like the Greater Prairie Chicken and the Karner Blue Butterfly, have already disappeared.
Is there any winter maintenance in the Tallgrass Prairie?
The Tallgrass Prairie can be accessed by the Circuit Path, which is maintained in winter, but the prairie itself is not plowed or treated in the winter. Plowing of the pathways can be dangerous to the wildlife and plants and is therefore avoided.
Winter use of the trails is at your own risk. Enjoy vast open space in winter while wearing proper footwear and preparing to be in seasonal ground conditions.
There’s wildlife far away that I would like to take a photo of. Can I make my own path?
Staying on the pathway helps protect the fragile ecosystem. You are protecting the wildlife and plants when you remain on the designated trails.
By staying on designated pathways, you:
- Reduce stress on wildlife and the likelihood they will leave the site or be injured accidentally.
- Reduce the spread of invasive species that often hitch a ride on clothing and pets as we leave pathways and then use us to spread them!
- Keep wild spaces wild, therefore increasing habitats for all the animals living or visiting the forest.
Can I feed wildlife?
Feeding wildlife can:
- be dangerous if animals start to associate people with food. They may become more visible, bold, or likely to approach humans. This is both dangerous to wildlife and humans.
- discourage animals from foraging for their natural food sources, which can lead to health problems.
- encourage larger numbers of animals to group together than normal. If one is sick, they can easily spread disease through the group.
Please refrain from feeding any wildlife.
Can I barbecue?
Barbecuing and open flames are prohibited. If you would like to barbecue with a covered propane barbecue, there are many areas around the Park, such as by the Lake and Orchard, that have the appropriate space.
Can my dog play in the Tallgrass Prairie?
Dogs are only permitted to play in the off-leash Dogsview Park. Keeping dogs on-leash throughout the rest of the Park promotes healthy biodiversity and reduces stress on wildlife and plants.